The plan for 2022 is to make a documentary about Richard D. James, the electronic musician who trades as Aphex Twin. The trouble is, Richard D. James is one of the most elusive characters out there; rarely seen in public, even more rarely granting interviews. How do we entice his interest and perhaps get the man to open up on camera? Newest member of the MBW team Steve had an idea, and talked Dom into making it a reality. Dom takes up the story of how he printed up a limited edition vinyl run as promo for a little film we like to call Lanner…
An early start from Bristol. Finally out of the front door by 7.30am. I load the car with three cameras and all the various other bits and bobs that for some reason, I feel need to be taken on this kind of outing.
A stop off to pick up some 8mm film from Rob at Cinelab in Slough—always good to shoot on as many formats as possible, although my Minolta is currently unwell. No film for Richard this time.
Leaving Slough, it’s a short hop to The Vinyl Factory in Hayes, the site of the former HMV/EMI record pressing plant. This area is currently under some redevelopment. An HMV museum is due to be built. A good idea, as a significant amount of musical history exists in this area on the far side of west London.
I arrive first at The Vinyl Factory, Steve follows a few minutes later. We park and are shown to the press where the wax will be formed into actual honest-to-god records.
The factory area is noisy and the air is loaded with the tang of the chemicals that are used in the production of the records made here.
The majority of the machines are of quite some vintage. The Vinyl Factory represents a resurgence in the interest of music being delivered on this long-established format, but the kit is the same as would have been pressing records during the boom years.
We meet Adam who oversees the running of The Vinyl Factory. He has been our patient guide in the pressing of the fifty copies of the promo record for Lanner.
Adam introduces us to Terry, the chap operating the press. Adam reminds us that this press costs £150 per hour. Terry’s time is valuable. He cleans the plate that came from the vinyl mastering session I did with Pete late last year at Finyl Tweek. Spanners and assorted metal doohickeys secure the plate solidly to the press. The black vinyl, which looks like liquorice, is fed into the press and the automated part of the process begins. Terry is eagle-eyed, making sure I do not get too close with the camera and that the records are correctly pressed. At the other end of the machine the freshly made records pop into white card sleeves, all ready to be tested and handed into our grubby mitts!
The whole process of pressing the fifty copies takes around an hour. I keep the camera rolling for around half that. During the pressing I also shoot stills of other parts of the factory. All this footage is of considerable use to promote the project.
Steve and I divvy up the records. I take the bulk for mailing out to various people I believe will have an interest in this documentary being made, spreading the gospel of Lanner.
We say our good byes to Adam and the team. Adam is left a gift of a Devader (MBW note—Devaders are Dom’s take on the classic street art tile. They’re pretty rare!) He also may have a way of helping us get into direct contact with Richard D. James.
Keep your ears pricked for the sound of a very limited record spinning on a turntable not too far from you soon.
There you have it, pop pickers. Dom, Steve and the rest of the Made By Wade crew are busy as ever working towards the goal of a great music documentary. More news on progress as we see it. And listen out for the Lanner EP!